Random Thoughts: 17 Days to Selection Monday

JakeBuchananNCState We are now only 17 days away from Selection Monday when we will find out the field of 64 teams. Here are some of my random thoughts for the games played on Friday evening. We saw three top ten teams drop their series openers tonight with the biggest victory being the North Carolina State Wolfpack over the Florida State Seminoles.

I have said for over the last week or so that I was not a big fan of how this Florida State team was set up this season and it continues to show. Sean Gilmartin only lasted 5.2 innings while giving up all five runs on seven hits. I also question the offense of the Seminoles which seems to have a major dropoff after Tyler Holt and Mike McGee.

Freshman Outfielder Jeremy Baltz of St. John’s had the best game of his young college career, as he hit FOUR homeruns in the Red Storm’s 8-5 victory over Louisville.  Baltz went 4-5 with four homers and seven RBI in the game, breaking St. John’s season records for both categories in the process with 18 and 68 respectively.  Due to their bad record against RPI Top 50 so far this season, St. John’s is going to need a lot of help to make the NCAA Tournament. They are in 4th place in the Big East, but are only 1 1/2 games behind UCONN for the top spot in the conference.

UConn made an interesting move this week to start sophomore RHP Matt Barnes on Friday evening as he entered the season as the number 3 starter and has been constantly moving up throughout the season. The move backfired on the Huskies as he only lasted two innings while giving up four hits and six walks and allowing eight earned runs as South Florida defeated UConn 12-1.  This was Barnes’ first loss on the year (7-1) and has impressed all season, just lacked the control tonight to be effective.  On the other end of the spectrum, USF’s Randy Fontanez gave a solid effort for USF leading up to the Big East Tournament, and improved his record to (5-6), giving up 1 ER over 7 IP with 6 K’s, facing only 23 batters on the night.

Alabama started the season 16-1 but since then they are 13-20 for an overall record of 29-21. They picked up another loss on Friday night to Ole Miss by a score of 5-4 as Ole Miss ace LHP Drew Pomeranz dominated the Crimson Tide offense by holding them to one hit and seven walks in five innings of work. There was a couple of reports this week that Pomeranz had a minor muscle pull in his abs that might make him miss a start but that is likely the reason that Pomeranz had such poor control on Friday night.

Coastal Carolina and Liberty are facing off this weekend in Lynchburg Virginia in a huge Big South series between the conference leaders. Coastal Carolina picked up the 5-2 victory on Friday night behind a strong pitching performance from Anthony Meo who went 7.1 innings while giving up only five hits and two runs to up his record to 11-1 on the year. If Meo and Cody Wheeler continue to lead the Chanticleers pitching staff, then they are going to be a very difficult matchup for any team in the country come Tourney Time.

On the West Coast, Cal-State Fullerton continued to impress by demolishing the Long Beach State Dirtbags in a 12-2 effort, including a 5-run 4th inning.  The Titans have now won 14 of their last 15 games.  Noe Ramirez (7-1) was touched up for 8 hits over 7 innings, but Long Beach was unable to string any of them together as he only 1 earned while striking out 5.  Carlos Lopez and Christian Colon each had 3 hits on the night, with Colon bashing his 13th homerun of the season, and was a double short of the cycle.

The UCLA Bruins seem to be getting their act together lately at the plate.  Even though Gerrit Cole (8-2) was not too impressive in the win, giving up 5 earned over 5 innings with only 2 strikeouts, the UCLA bats came through in a big way to give the Bruins a 13-7 win over hated rival USC.  Blair Dunlap led the way for UCLA with 3 hits and 2 RBI.  Trojan Sophomore First Baseman Ricky Oropesa continues to be dominant at the plate, going 4-5 with a double, homerun, and 4 RBI, and is a player to watch in 2011.